Since I’ve been in health and fitness for a long time, I’ve learned not to judge anyone by appearance. However, a conversation with a woman who struggled with her self-image and weight brought several people to my mind. This discussion inspired me to write this post.
People with health conditions who take medications causing weight gain fight a daily battle with their weight. If they have physical limitations, it is like “shoveling snow in a blizzard” for them. I was privileged to meet several people in an Arthritis Foundation water exercise class several years ago as an instructor. They shared their stories with me. Some had osteoarthritis, others had rheumatoid arthritis, a few had MS, and a couple had fibromyalgia. They were pretty faithful about coming to class unless their health or the weather kept them home. What a fantastic bunch!
Some have bodies that don’t cooperate with them, causing tremendous weight gain or weight loss. It’s not their fault. It is just that way. One woman with Hashimoto’s disease looked like a formidable wall yet had once been quite physically active. People judged her every time she went to a restaurant as an “overeater” when she actually chose healthy, smaller portions. The seats and benches weren’t designed for someone her size, so she quietly tolerated the discomfort. Could you imagine being in her shoes? Others have the opposite problem. Due to an overactive immune system from severe allergies and celiac disease that compounded her fibromyalgia, her classmates constantly judged a teen girl at school for being thin. Heavier classmates picked at her regularly. She suffered from her condition and the cruelty of others.
Yet others have situations that cause tremendous emotional pain and loss. Many people go through a painful divorce or the loss of a spouse and hide in foods that provide “comfort” for a short time. Others are caught in the momentum of corporate America, working long hours while dealing with stressful deadlines and situations. They don’t have the time nor energy to make their own meals, depending instead on restaurant fare. Short on sleep, they trudge home. Cortisol levels keep their waistlines bigger despite their weight loss efforts. Some seek relief from the stress with crunchy, salty foods. They feel trapped with retirement like a car racing at the Indianapolis 500 caught on the inside, hoping to make it across the finish line of retirement.
The woman I mentioned earlier said to me, “I wish I were built like you. God really blessed you!”
We’ve had similar discussions before, so I decided to get her to think about her comparison. I replied:” Do you really? Do you want food allergies and celiac disease?”
“No!” she responded in surprise.
“I would be 10 pounds heavier if it weren’t for those issues because there are foods I miss. Those foods would be back in my diet. As it is, I have had a difficult time with meals and finding what I can safely eat. Appreciate how God made you, eat healthy food, and keep working out,” I shared with her.
Psalm 139 tells us that each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, purposely created by our glorious Creator. We are each uniquely designed. So when tempted to judge someone for any reason, contemplate God’s creation of that person. As for ourselves, it’s so important to appreciate God’s creation of us, eat healthy while continuing to exercise to stay healthy and fit. Taking care of our own Temple of the Holy Spirit is up to us. May God bless you!
Courtesy of Charlaine Martin